Recent Reads #56

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post in approximately fifty words. 

Some of these books either aren’t released yet or I want to write a full review of in the future, so I’ll just have a quick thought with the full review to come!


All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

⭐️🧠

TW: racism, police brutality, assault

This is one of those books that demands your attention and commands you to listen. It’s cliche to say, but it really is a powerful book and its core message is one that we all need to embrace – no longer can we be passive bystanders to injustice and hatred.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

⭐️🧠

TW: drug use, drug addiction, gun violence, sexual assault, violence

This is an incredibly strong and memorable debut. It’s a YA mystery unlike any other I’ve read, full of wonderful representation and a cast of characters that have such vivid and distinct voices. Boulley has crafted a story that will constantly keep you on your toes.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal

⭐️🏳️‍🌈 (side character)

TW: blood, gore, violence, physical abuse, emotional abuse

Faizal’s writing is so lush, evocative and rich. The world she’s created is incredibly imaginative and populated with nuanced, interesting characters. However, I just felt like there was some vital element missing, but I think this is a case of me rather than the book. I just felt really disconnected from the book the whole time I was reading, so didn’t fully engage with the characters that much. I’m hugely disappointed, but will try a reread at some point in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: blood, violence, racism, death, murder, suicide, war, grief

What I deeply love about the Grishaverse is the strength of its characters. Here, they only grow and become more nuanced, continuing their individual explorations of trauma and grief and reconciling them with their own search for identity. There’s always been a focus on carving out your own path in life and surrounding yourself with a found family that you adore. Rule of Wolves is aware of where its strengths lie and massively leans into them.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: on page graphic details of sexual assault, PTSD, homophobia, bullying, victim shaming, slut shaming, racism, body shaming, drugging

McLemore has such a gift and I would read anything they decide to produce. Their work is stunning every time. Yet again, this was a stunning, lyrical and deeply moving story. I loved how elements of The Snow Queen were woven into an exploration of sexual assault and trauma. This is not an easy read, but you can feel the pages shudder with emotion and tinges of hope for the future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

⭐️

TW: loss of a loved one, racism, stories of war

I absolutely loved the premise of two competing restaurant families and their children who fall in love, Romeo and Juliet style. This was such an adorable and lovable story, complete with romance and plenty of mouth-watering food. At its core, this is a story about first love, pursuing your dreams and family.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

⭐️🏳️‍🌈🧠

TW: Death of a parent, emotional and physical abuse, on page death, violence (full details here)

Ok, Overy definitely has my full attention. This was a spellbinding story expertly woven together and infused with elements of betrayal, politics and embracing your power in a world that seeks to contain it. I loved the enemies to lovers dynamics, the sapphic romance and the constant sense that you couldn’t trust anyone. A very, very strong debut.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: homphobia, body shaming, bullying

This was such a fun, entertaining and empowering read with a brilliant cast of characters. You just wanted to dance the night away with them all and really root for their romances to succeed. Seeing cameos from characters from the previous books was awesome and helped bring this whole little world together.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

⭐️🧠

TW: past parent cancer death, sexual assault, racism, drug use, death, violence

That was an exhilarating ride. I sat down and devoured this in one sitting. The writing was just so compelling and the plot felt so engaging. I love when mysteries have an edge of social commentary to them and here the erasure of the disappearance of Black women is keenly felt. There’s an ideology of a ‘perfect victim’ and if you fall outside that, wider society does not care about your welfare. I loved Jay’s voice and the way this story unfolded.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

🏳️‍🌈

TW:  biphobia, divorce

This Grease inspired contemporary was such a quick and fun read. I got utterly swept up in Lara’s story and really enjoyed the exploration of self-discovery. It felt like a believable high school romance, with all the extra complications and tensions between characters. An incredibly bingeable and cute read.

However, the representation of POC characters felt a bit off and therefore reduced my rating. I’ve linked to a review that explain it far better than me here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Vulture by Bex Hogan

🏳️‍🌈 (side characters)

TW: blood, violence, death, PTSD, reference to past torture, trauma

This is a superb ending to what has been an amazing trilogy. Yet again, be careful who you get attached to as Hogan is not afraid to brutally kill off her darlings. There’s excellent twists and turns in store, along with a clever payoff for that cliffhanger from Venom.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

⭐️🧠

TW: death, grief, disappearances, references to sexual assault, kidnapping, slavery, mentions of suicide, poisoning, abusive parent, facial mutilation

I loved the atmosphere of this book. Hur has crafted an exquisite reading experiences that utterly envelopes you in Korea in 1426. I loved the historical setting of the book and how it instantly made it stand out from other YA mysteries. Hur is definitely an author to keep your eye on and I cannot wait to delve into my copy of The Silence of Bones.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

She’s Too Pretty To Burn by Wendy Heard

⭐️🏳️‍🌈

TW: animal death, car accident, child death, death, emotional abuse, stalking, kidnapping, panic attacks, drowning, strangling, imprisonment, murder, violence, animal cruelty, suicidal thoughts

This was such a gripping, heart-racing read that I strongly enjoyed. The influences and references to The Picture of Dorian Gray were exquisite. I liked how it explored the intersection of art, passion and control. The art people created exposed their true feelings and selves in a way that only grew more dangerous as time went on. This was definitely a book I’ll be returning to over and over again.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads #56

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